Passengers at Charleston International will start seeing construction activity inside the aging terminal in June now that the airport authority has awarded a key contract.

The deal reached Monday paves the way for work to begin on the long-awaited $200 million makeover.

The first work will begin in the baggage claim area, where a third carousel will be added. The project will move in phases throughout the 28-year-old terminal to include six new gates, consolidated security checkpoints, a dome over the lobby and numerous other changes to help Charleston International meet the growing demands of more passengers and greater safety.

Charleston County Aviation Authority voted 5-2 to award the construction administration contract to Fentress Architects of Colorado for $7 million, with an added $1 million set aside to handle unforeseen obstacles. Larry Richter and Teddie Pryor cast the no votes.

The contract fell into dispute in March after the airport project’s program manager, Michael Baker Corp. of Columbia, also bid on part of the same work. Baker later withdrew its bid after revelations that some board members tried to steer work to certain subcontractors in Baker’s bid. That prompted an investigation by Aviation Authority Chairman Andy Savage, which is still active.

The board also unanimously awarded the inspection and testing services contract for airport construction to the engineering firm S&ME for $330,926 instead of Terracon, which had been recommended. Terracon’s price was lower, at $328,397.

Also, the airport finance committee did not meet as scheduled to take up the next fiscal year’s spending plan because a quorum was not present. A make-up meeting date has not been set.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or